The First Annual Golden Bananas
For films released between January 2008 and February 2009
The hardest thing about writing an introduction to these new awards — awards that celebrate the worst of Hindi-language cinema — is avoiding a first-sentence pun about their a-peel. Phew, now that we’ve gotten that slippery bit out of the way, here’s what the awards are all about: The Golden Bananas are given out to the most awful Hindi films — the most pathetic legitimate releases, not the B-grade sort, that wouldn’t be fair — and these are awards that single out people who deserve far worse than a gilt-wrapped fruit.
The categories themselves are self-explanatory, and we see this cruelty as just payback to the nominees for making us sit through their execrable films.
Yet we suggest the recipients hold on to their Bananas with pride. They are, after all, the only awards they deserve.
Worst Original Screenplay
The nominees are:
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
Love Story 2050
It was a hard category to even find five films for, but here goes: A director so in love with his own great debut that he can’t get beyond constantly trying to recapture its glory; Another director firmly caught in a timewarp two decades old; Another who, like an assembly line, picks at various industries and singles out their most hackneyed and stereotypical ‘flaws;’ A film that tries hard to be a cross between Harry Potter and Indiana Jones and ends up becoming a witless stoner movie; And a screenplay that borrows so much from so many sources and makes such a hash of it that it can’t be called anything but original.
And the Banana goes to: Love Story 2050. The fact that a script like this — cribbed from a slew of time-travel movies and made into one without a single iota of coherence — is bankrolled shows exactly what is most alarmingly wrong with our producers.
(Who wins Worst Actress? What line of dialogue justifies screenwriter-slaughter? Read on, after the jump)
Worst ‘Adapted Screenplay’
Ugly Aur Pagli
God Tussi Great Ho
By ‘adapted’ we obviously mean straight-from-DVD films, and here are five particularly gruesome rip-offs: Rahul Bose stars as Tom Cruise in a horribly wooden remake of Rob Reiner’s A Few Good Men; Aamir Khan adding two hours of romance and much man-cleavage to Christopher Nolan’s Memento; A frame-by-frame remake of Woody Allen’s Husbands & Wives, deplorable coming from the arthouse crowd; A sluggish and charmless remake of the delightul Korean film, My Sassy Girl; And Bruce Almighty weakly distilled for Bollywood with Salman Khan going at it in the Jim Carrey role.
And the Banana goes to: Shaurya. Rahul Bose cockily asserting on a news channel that he hasn’t seen A Few Good Men and then going on to say ‘the Minissha Lamba character plays a journalist while the Demi Moore character plays a lawyer’ is reason enough, but this film and its hideous take on Hindu-Muslim feuding in our military is irresponsible enough to be injurious.
Worst Casting decision
The nominees are:
Rani Mukerji in Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic
Abhishek Bachchan in Drona
Imran Khan in Kidnap
Paresh Rawal in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye
Kangna Ranaut in Fashion
It’s a tough category, this: A chubby Bengali actress cast as an annoyingly exuberant Punjabi angel; a laidback out of shape actor playing a scowling loser cum superhero; a fresh-faced serenader trying desperately hard to look angry as hell; the year’s best performer (in Mumbai Meri Jaan) turning out to be the one guy who gets the accents wrong in the year’s finest film, a fact that kinda jars on the nerves; and a pretty girl who should never be given an English line here weighed down by swear words.
And The Banana goes to: Kangna Ranaut in Fashion. Her shrill ‘basterds! basterds’ shrieks — a precursor to Quentin Tarantino’s curiously spelt Inglourious Basterds — are already the stuff of legend.
Most Cringeworthy Dialogue
These nominees need elaboration, so here we paraphrase:
Love Story 2050: Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra are eating hotdogs and he is trying to comment on just how boring her life is. He then ingenuously likens her life to a hotdog with something missing, and instead of stressing the lack of mustard or relish, says, ‘Your life is like a hotdog without a sausage.’ Um, really.
Yuvvraaj: Salman Khan gets into a hit and run (ha!) and brother Anil Kapoor takes the rap. A much-chastened Khan goes to bail out Kapoor, and encounters an Austrian cop who asks why Kapoor took the blame for the accident. Khan, rolling Rs as only he can, says, ‘He’s my brrotherr.’ The cop is unimpressed, and asks, ‘So.’ Salman takes a deep breath and delivers the coup de grace: ‘He’s an Indian brotherr.’ ‘Aaah,’ says the newly enlightened copper.
Chandni Chowk To China: Akshay Kumar has just buffed up using something called the Iron Forearm technique. He proceeds to take Deepika Padukone into these arms, saying (roughly translated), ‘It’s just iron forearms for now. Soon I will have iron legs, an iron chest, an iron stomach..’ Here he pauses to look down pointedly, and Deepika coyly clamps a hand on his mouth, saying ‘Bas bas.’ Kumar shrugs off this protest and growls, ‘Now my entire body is made of iron.’ Deepika looks at him dreamily and says, ‘Ohhh, mere iron man!’
And the Banana goes to: It’s a tie, believe it or not, between Love Story 2050 and Chandni Chowk To China. One would never have thought the hotdog line could possibly have any competition for the Golden Banana, but the way a simpering Deepika evokes our current favourite superhero pushes it into the impossibly bad league. This one’s a banana-split.
The nominees are:
Nikhil Advani – Chandni Chowk To China
Aditya Chopra – Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
Ram Gopal Varma – Phoonk
Murugadoss – Ghajini
Kunal Kohli – Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic
It’s a category where we’ve taken actual directors, choosing to ignore debutants, doting producer daddies and former actors who suddenly consider themselves worthy of making movies. Here, scarily enough, are bonafide directors who really messed up: Nikhil Advani shows no sense of balance in his Chandni Chowk To China, going from corny over-the-top buffoonery to complete bad 80s melodrama, and not doing any of it well; Aditya Chopra achieves the near-impossible by making a film where the first ten minutes could actually segue into the last ten minutes without the two and a half hours in between, and does it glorifying his own film all the while; Ram Gopal Varma, former master of horror cinema, makes an inadvertently funny film that literally forces the audience to eat crow; Murugadoss makes his Hindi film debut with a horribly romanticised version of Memento that throws skilful plotting and non-linearity out the window, only to replace it with a very dated love story; and Kunal Kohli adds dollops of ghee to a very Punjabi version of Mary Poppins as he robs Saif Ali Khan of the ability to smile and Amisha Patel of clothes.
And the Banana goes to: Nikhil Advani, for showing the sort of absolute, unredeemable ineptitude which makes us question if he actually visited the sets while his film was shot. His first film Kal Ho Naa Ho was deftly made, but Salaam-E-Ishq and Chandni Chowk To China scarily exemplify the Bollywood bloat.
The nominees are:
Harman Baweja – Love Story 2050
Akshaye Khanna – Race
Salman Khan – Yuvvraaj / God Tussi Great Ho
Amitabh Bachchan – The Last Lear
Abhishek Bachchan – Drona
It’s a pretty tight contest: There’s a debutant doing absolutely everything he can in his power to look like a reigning superstar, short of tacking on a prosthetic thumb; There’s a man successfully trying to get an actual salary for making blowfish-faces and pouting instead of doing anything remotely acting related; There’s a former stud showing off his hairweave and an increasingly ludicrous accent to prove himself the most annoying leading man around; There’s an absolute icon taking on an English-language role and making his fans cringe with his insanely hammy performance; and there’s his son trying hard to frown his way to intensity in a super-hero film where he’s out-performed by a CGI flower petal.
And the Banana goes to: Harman Baweja for Love Story 2050, for doing the kind of Hrithik Roshan impersonation that wouldn’t even be accepted at the Great Indian Laughter Challenge. Grow your own identity, young man.
The nominees are:
Deepika Padukone – Bachna Ae Haseeno / Chandni Chowk To China
Rani Mukerji – Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic
Priyanka Chopra – Love Story 2050
Asin – Ghajini
Urmila Matondkar – Karzzzz
Ah, the girls have been rather spectacularly terrible this year: Deepika Padukone is jawdroppingly stunning and has one of the industry’s finest bodies, but it’s positively painful to watch her amble through celluloid, making Katrina Kaif look like Konkona Sensharma in comparison; Rani Mukerji’s had her share of well-deserved spotlight and impressed for many years now, but this pathetic angel turn had us all wishing Beelzebub would soon make a fatal appearance; Priyanka Chopra has terrific potential, but spent this film overdoing expressions — pout, blink eyelids, pout, rinse repeat — with all the subtlety of a pornstar; Asin did well in the Southern original but somehow was blinded by the star power of Aamir Khan, blinded and stultified, into giving a performance that earned her the suffix -ine; and Urmila Matondkar channeled her inner Rakhi Sawant as she squeezed into tacky outfits and spoke in English that made Kangna Ranaut sound like a Duchess.
And the Banana goes to: Urmila Matondkar for Karzzzz, because it’s no mean feat spending all day on sets with Himesh Reshammiya and making him feel like he isn’t the worst actor around.
The nominees are:
Love Story 2050
Chandni Chowk To China
It’s a mixed bunch vying for the big prize: A derivative fantasy farce where the only science-fiction is the belief that the filmmaker’s son can be a star; a film marking the entry of one of the world’s biggest movie studios into India, and showing only how badly even the West falls prey to our madly star-centric system; a superhero movie that looks to Indian mythology for inspiration and comes up soulless, spiritless and stupid; a woefully-acted adaptation of a bestselling novel that revels in random America-bashing and embarrassingly unfunny stereotype-driven gags; and an excessively patchy thriller that goofs up at every level, including tossing up a costume change for the heroine from the time she’s kidnapped to the time she reaches the kidnapper’s lair.
And the Banana goes to: Love Story 2050. Drona and Chandni Chowk To China come very close as they top the scales of wasted budget and potential, but Love Story 2050 is borne out of a different breed of old-school Bollywood shamelessness. Buying a son a sportscar for a birthday is all dandy, but superstardom really oughtn’t be for sale.
The Big Banana
Celebrating special achievement in awfulness
This one is the year’s special award, going to a film that plumbs the depths of mediocrity in a more shameless and exploitative manner than films that might technically be much worse overall products. The Big Banana, the Banana D’or, the Bada Kela, is about the year’s most disgraceful film.
The Big Banana goes to
Not just does Madhur Bhandarkar’s ‘hard-hitting exposé’ of the fashion industry not hit hard or expose anything new at all, but there’s some particularly deplorable subversion at work in the film. Aiming at showing Priyanka Chopra’s fall from grace, the film takes her from having an affair with a married man, to taking to drink, to taking to soft drugs, then harder drugs. What then could possibly further her complete descent into hell? Well, the film shows her sleeping with a black man — and then scrubbing herself off because of how unclean she feels.
And then there’s Madhur’s own cameo in the film, where two women point to him at a fashion show and excitedly coo ‘Madhur Bhandarkar, the man who makes realistic films.’ Yeah, right.
Blatant racism and total self-unawareness in the same film? Dude, you deserve the Bada Kela bigtime.
Published in Man’s World, March 2009